Friends and relatives on Sunday identified the man who was fatally shot on a north Minneapolis block as Ky'reon Watkins, as police continued their investigation of what is thought to be a gang-related slaying.
The incident occurred sometime around 8:30 Saturday night when police said an off-duty officer working a private security job heard a gunshot coming from the area of N. 21st and Aldrich avenues.
Responding officers searched the area without finding a victim, but a short time later Watkins was dropped off at a nearby hospital after being shot twice in the head, according to officials and police radio transmissions. He was placed on life support before dying of his injuries sometime during the night, officials said.
No arrests had been announced as of Sunday morning.
Authorities have not publicly named Watkins as the victim, but relatives identified the 23-year-old father of infant twins in social media postings. He died about a month shy of his 24th birthday.
On Facebook, relatives said his slaying coincided with another milestone: the two-year anniversary of his brother's death, from which they said Watkins had never quite recovered.
The brother, Hae'veon Wesley, a former football standout at Patrick Henry High School, was killed outside a Crystal gas station in August 2017, while grabbing a gun from a friend that accidentally went off, authorities said. The friend was later charged with manslaughter in the incident.
On Sunday, expressions of grief flooded the Facebook page of the brothers' mother, whose profile picture was still a photo of her and Wesley, in full uniform and pads, after one of his high school games.
One woman who wrote on the mother's Facebook page asked her followers to keep the family in their prayers, while another posted: "No mother Deserves This Pain !!!!"
Messages left for relatives on social media on Sunday went unreturned, and no one answered when a reporter knocked on the door of an address listed to the mother.
On Watkins' own Facebook page, he is shown holding a baby bottle up to one of his three-month old twins, while standing next to the kids' mother, who is holding the other baby. In other pictures, he is standing with a group of friends, including Quayshun Felton, a 16-year-old boy who was gunned down last month.
"Dam lil bro I love you, u just called my phone this morning never would of expected this," Watkins wrote in a caption on the photo, using an expletive.
The records show that Watkins was on probation at the time of his death, after previously pleading guilty to two unrelated shootings. In one, as a 14-year-old, he admitted to firing at a gunman who had shot two of his friends; then while on temporary release after his arrest for that shooting, he showed up uninvited at an eighth-grade graduation party and shot and critically wounded one of the partygoers.
His criminal record shows no other convictions.
Based on the preliminary investigation, police were looking into the possibility that his death was the result of an ongoing gang war, after receiving information that Watkins or someone else involved had ties to the Young 'N Thuggin', or YNT, gang. Otherwise, they have released few details about the slaying, the city's 25th of the year, which comes amid a surge of violence citywide that included two other shootings on Saturday and early Sunday.
In one of the attacks, a 43-year-old woman told police she had just left a residence in the area of S. 37th and Clinton avenues when a gunman opened fire on the car she was riding in, hitting her in the arm and torso, police said. The incident happened just before 6 p.m. Saturday.
Then, about 2:05 a.m. Sunday, officers responding to a ShotSpotter activation near corner of S. 21st and Elliot avenues found a woman, 30, who had been shot in the leg, police said. A short time later, a second victim, a 23-year-old woman, was dropped off at HCMC with a gunshot wound to the leg.
Neither incident yielded any immediate arrests.
Libor Jany • 612-673-4064 Twitter: @StribJany